March 13, 2013

Regarding Robert McCartney’s March 7 Metro column “Deal is near to shift traffic out of Manassas battlefield park”:

Everyone involved agrees on the need to direct commuter traffic away from the national battlefield park to protect the park’s history, meaning and visitors. However, not everyone agrees that the proposed new highways can solve traffic problems.

Omitted from Mr. McCartney’s column was the Virginia Department of Transportation’s agreement to analyze a package of practical, lower-impact transportation projects that could provide relief for east-west commuters and the park. That analysis must be completed and considered before this process moves forward. The draft agreement does not yet provide specific, enforceable provisions to close Route 29 and Route 234 inside the park if the new highways are built.

The ghosts of Manassas’s fallen soldiers deserve better. To move forward without an ironclad guarantee that the roads will be closed would put the history and culture of Virginia’s most recognized battlefield in jeopardy.

Joy M. Oakes, Washington

The writer is senior regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association.

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